Located 30 minutes north of downtown Dallas and about 30 minutes east of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, Allen has emerged in recent years as a hotbed of high-tech talent and ingenuity.
From the innovative MonkeySports, which relocated their corporate headquarters from CA with 250 jobs, to CVE Technology, which brought 1,200 jobs and their New Jersey corporate headquarters, Allen is on a roll. Other recent expansion projects include KONE, which moved 115 jobs into 250,000 sq. ft.; IntelliEpi, which brought 75 positions to a 50,000-sq.-ft. facility; and Purus Labs/Formulife, which announced 65 workers taking up 45,000 sq. ft. of flex space.
Smaller firms are choosing to grow in Allen as well: Harris True Automation announced 60 jobs, while TOPS Software brought 20 employees and Nine-Brand Brewing created seven positions at its startup microbrewery.
What they all have in common is a desire to be part of a progressive community that enables them and their workers to grow and thrive.
Located along the Highway 121 Corridor near the Legacy area (future home of Toyota’s North America headquarters), Allen is considered part of the up-and-coming Platinum Corridor that is currently one of the most desirable corporate addresses in all of Dallas-Fort Worth.
“Allen’s 121 corridor is expected to be a high growth area in North Texas,” says Nichole Vance, marketing manager for the Allen Economic Development Corp. “The open land that is available here with access to the 75 and the 121 will drive future development in this area. When people come here, they see that we are still basically Small Town America with 95,000 people, but we also have all the amenities that you could possibly want.”
Elevator Firm Rising Rapidly
One of those visitors who chose to come and stay in Allen is Jussi Oijala, a senior executive at KONE, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of elevator and escalator systems. Headquartered in Helsinki, Finland, KONE decided to place its supply-chain management, engineering and technology R&D operations for the Americas in Allen.
“About 250 workers will eventually be here in Allen,” says Oijala, who has been with KONE for 25 years. “This operation in Allen will be growing. In the next two to three years, our staff here will grow to about 180. This will be the core of our supply operations in Dallas. It will also enable us to serve our factory in Mexico and our factory in the Quad Cities.”
Founded in 1910, KONE employs nearly 50,000 employees worldwide and registers net sales of around $10 billion annually. “We have our major projects team here as well,” says Oijala. “We will have our training facility here for our installation team, as well as our installation development team for installing our elevators. This will be a center of excellence for all of our training for KONE Americas. Being close to the market and our customers and suppliers in North America really drove this decision.”
Oijala says KONE liked Allen for several reasons. “The location is very good,” he notes. “DFW is close by, and it is very centrally located. This is a thriving business environment. An experienced workforce is available. For finding engineering and technical people, this is a very good market. Good universities ensure that we have a lot of qualified candidates and access to innovative people.”
From an economic standpoint, the move made sense, he adds. “We received some incentives, and we have a very good relationship with the Allen EDC. For the long term, this is a good place to be.”
WatchGuard Expands in Allen
Jaime Carlin, communication manager for WatchGuard Video, says that her company’s Allen location has enabled it to become a global leader in the making and selling of security video systems used by law enforcement agencies worldwide.
Founded by Robert Vanman in 2002, WatchGuard grew up in Allen while Allen itself grew, says Carlin. “Allen was a much smaller city then; it was small enough so that WatchGuard could grow with the community. It was a place where they could grow without having to pay the high prices of Dallas proper. Allen was part of the emerging technology corridor that started in Richardson.”
Carlin notes that “this was the right place for a technology company. We started with 20 employees and now we have over 200. We are one of the fastest-growing companies in Texas and have been on the Inc. 5000 list each year since 2010.”
Nearly one-third of all law enforcement agencies in the US and Canada have a WatchGuard product in their police vehicles today, says Carlin. “WatchGuard is the world’s largest manufacturer of law enforcement camera systems, including both in-vehicle systems and on-body cameras. We spent about $40 million on R&D into the camera and evidence management systems. Our product has continued to evolve. Our first body camera was sold in 2009. Since then, we have kept pace with demand.”
Carlin adds that “Allen is an incredible environment. For the amount of growth that has occurred in Allen, it is still a great hometown. It retains its old Texas small-town mentality in a big-city area and a very advanced society. I like to call Allen a big city with hometown Texas values.”
Housed in a 65,000-sq.-ft. building in Allen, WatchGuard expects to expand into a larger facility in the coming years.
“Our workforce has been employed from all over the nation,” she adds. “They come from all parts of the country. We never have any problem recruiting new talent, whether it is hiring from the many local universities in the area or convincing someone to relocate here from anywhere in the US.”
This investment profile was prepared under the auspices of the Allen EDC. For more information, go to www.allentx.com/wideopen or email Nichole Vance at nvance@AllenTX.com.
Ron Starner is Executive Vice President of Conway Data, Inc. He has been with Conway Data for 22 years and serves as a writer and editor for both Site Selection and the company's Custom Content publishing division. His Twitter handle is @RonStarner.